Bill Boal

Editor’s Note: Bill Boal of New York City died at age 80. In his hono as am <KP elder, we reprint below an article he contributed to the September 2009 edition of the Journal, based on his latest ebook, Getting Free From Fear.

Bill was always creating new ideas. For instance, he’d begun visiting senior and assisted living homes in NY to conduct “sharing circles” among the residents. Last November he attended the World Elder Gathering in London where he promoted “Elders mentoring Seniors,” gaining commitments from a dozen men to implement the program in their communities.

Reframe Your Fear

by Bill Boal

Somewhere, sometime, perhaps when you were little, someone or something introduced you to Fear. He, she or it taught you to be afraid. You didn’t have any choice in the matter, so you took it in.

If you’re like many of us, you’ve got quite a few tried and true stories from your childhood that justify why you are the way you are. These stories combine and interact in your mind and feelings to create a script that you often act out in your life.

One of my old scripts

When I was nine, living in Evanston, Illinois, my mother was sent to what was then called a sanitarium, a rest and treatment home for people who were depressed. It was December, near Christmas in 1939. I can still remember being alone with my father on Christmas Day, both of us trying to be cheerful.

I’ll never forget what my dad said to me that day about my mother: “You got a raw deal, son, you really did.” I chose to carry that statement with me for years.

I chose to make the conviction that I got a raw deal in life my ‘ story’ – my rationale for everything that happened to me or didn’t.

Then, when I was 15, I had a car accident that I don’t remember at all. I was told that the car hit a bump in the road, crashed into a tree and sent me flying through the windshield. The boy who was driving thought I was dead and dragged me off into the bushes. Lucky for me, his Mom called the police.

As a result of the accident, I was unconscious for nine days with a fractured skull.  When I woke up, I had throbbing, painful migraine headaches. I also had a nasty scar on my forehead

I thought I looked ugly. I didn’t get up the courage to ask a girl for a date until I was 19, by which time the scar had almost disappeared.

So, my choice to pity myself when I was nine was reinforced when I was 15 as another ‘raw deal.’ My choice was to pity myself and fall back on my dad’s comment, “You got a raw deal, son.”

“Poor Me” became my defining character trait.

I realized much, much later in life that my father was probably talking about himself, not me. He was the one who got the raw deal.

My mom suffered from depression for the rest of her life, for which she always pitied herself. So, I learned self-pity from both of my parents. Along with self- pity, there was the Fear that I didn’t get the same good deal that I thought everybody else got. These thoughts governed my life well into my 30s. I was acting out the script I had been given in my childhood.

“The first step in transcending Fear is to image yourself already beyond it,” said Don Jones

Actions to take

A popular definition of insanity is doing the same things you’ve always done and expecting to get different results. William Blake wrote, “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

You can change the way you think and respond to life. You can start to drop the old same old stories and write your own script about how you want to live and who you really are. The best way I know to change your life is to create your vision of what you’d like your life to be.

Create a Vision Statement for yourself. Declare what your life would be like if all your dreams came true.

Imagine that it is New Year’s Eve three years from now. Imagine that you are living where you want to live and doing what you want to do. You’re with the partner of your choice. There’s an abundance of money, time and fun in your life. Success comes easily to you. You are happier than you’ve ever been.

What are the details of your ideal life?  What does your home look like? Describe its style, furnishings, city and country.

Do you have a partner? What does he or she look like? Do you have children? How many?

Don’t hold back in your Vision Statement. Be outrageous. Oprah wants you on her show. President Obama gives you a medal.

Be specific about the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be and what you’ve always wanted to have. Have fun with it. See what comes up.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours,” wrote philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau.

I have coached many people whose Vision Statement enabled them to create a bold new plan that helped them to make their vision a reality.

Write your own script instead of acting out the scripts you were given by your parents, your family, your teachers, advertising and the Media. Don’t accept all the conditioning that comes from our marketing-driven society.

In your new grown-up script, write in scenes where you take care of that kid who couldn’t take care of himself when he was little. What does that child still living inside of you need? What didn’t that child get when little? How will you give these things to him now?

Here’s a simple questionnaire to help you get started. Fill in the blanks.


1. Date: New Year’s Eve, three years from now
2. I earn $______________ annually.
3. What brings to me my abundant income is:_________________
4. I live in the home of my dreams, which is in__________________.
5. What I love about my home(s) is:__________________________
6. I’m living with a wonderful person who gives me:______________
7. Among the honors I’ve received are:________________________
8. Pull out all the stops. Be outrageous. The reason Oprah wants me on her show is: __________
9. What I’m hugely grateful for is: _______________
10. The reasons why my life has turned out just the way I dreamed it would be are: __________
Add your own Vision Statement details.

And check out these three Bonus Tips  for reframing your fears.

1. HUM! Go ahead and HUMMMMM. Feel the sound in your throat. Feel it vibrate in your body. Hum a tune you know and like. “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.” Is one of my favorites.  When you hum to yourself out loud, notice what happens to the manifestation you call Fear. Are you less afraid when you hum?

2. MOVE. When Fear shows up, get physical. Do stretches, sit-ups, go for a walk. Do something physical to circulate the energy that’s trapped in fear. The power of physical action can transform fear.

3. USE YOUR IMAGINATION. Find an image that gladdens your heart: yellow roses, a chipmunk, mountains, the sea, spring buds on a branch, a baby’s grin. Next time you catch a fear thought, gently accept that it’s there in you and immediately switch that scary thought to an image you love. Do this a lot. No effort is wasted. Love yourself a lot. When you come from Love instead of Fear you whole life gets better. Start now.

Bill Boal was a personal and business success coach and motivational speaker based in New York City. The bover article was from his latest ebook, Getting Free From Fear, from A to Z.